marine safety, boating


Practice Areas


As the owner or operator of a watercraft, you are legally liable for a variety of delicate responsibilities– in some ways it is similar to a road vehicle, but it is extremely different in others. Whether you enjoy your time on Alberta lakes, off the Pacific coast or somewhere more exotic: many of the same conditions apply! Keep reading for Martin G Schulz’s top five tips for being safe on the water

1. Forecast-away
Any seasoned mariner will tell you that your day on the water depends on the whims of Mother Nature… But forget the rhyming riddles! Cutting edge technology allows us to have the latest forecast in the palms of our hands. If you plan to spend time on the water, always stay on top of the expected weather and stay connected for updates or warnings. Sudden changes in conditions are a common cause of aquatic and nautical accidents.

2. Listing
Managing everything on a boat can be an overwhelming task, but there are tried and true methods to help you keep your head above water. The simplest of these strategies is to make a list of everything you are bringing with you– checking through it once or twice before each time you disembark. Make sure your list includes the basics like safety items as well as valuables.

3. All hands on deck
Only veteran boaters should go out alone, though most know it is safest to bring along a “first mate.” Whether your passengers are experienced or not, it is your role as the “skipper” to ensure everyone knows basic safety practices and procedures. Always make a float plan– include a detailed record of your trip, expected departure and arrival times, a manifest of you and your passengers’ information, your watercraft’s registration number and identifying marks– leave it with the local authority if possible, as well as a trusted individual or any loved ones. It is also your legal responsibility to provide properly fitted life jackets and a well-stocked safety/emergency kit.

4. Keep your deck dry
Many people associate boating with a leisurely lifestyle– in fact, there are even nautically-themed alcoholic drinks. While passengers may enjoy liquor responsibly on the water, if you are driving the watercraft: you are expected to be as sober as you should be behind the wheel of a car. Oftentimes it is safest to keep your time on the water as “dry” as possible, raise a glass on the beach instead!

5. Float on
Thanks to life jacket regulations, anybody on a boat should be safe to go out on the water. Still, it is wise to invest in swimming lessons for anyone who plans to spend time on a watercraft. Additionally, anyone who plans to operate the boat or another recreational vehicle should take at least a basic water safety course– if not a comprehensive lesson on boating in general.

BONUS: Water does not have to be liquid for you to be on it! If you enjoy snowmobiling or ice-fishing– always consider the legal consequences of operating a vehicle unsafely on a frozen body of water.

The list above is only a simple summary of the complex world out there on the water. Different conditions and locations call for different safety standards– so it is always best to familiarize yourself and boat as safely as possible. Questions or concerns about your legal liabilities and responsibilities behind the wheel of a watercraft? Contact or visit us today!